This article marks the first in a series of two articles on various properties of allulose that can help food technologists as they consider reformulation opportunities to replace caloric sweeteners with low-calorie sugar allulose.
Allulose is a low-calorie, “rare” sugar (about 0.2 calories per gram) which can be found naturally in fruits, such as figs and raisins, as well as vegetables and other plants. Allulose is also about 70% as sweet as sucrose and has very good synergy with high-potency sweeteners, so it functions well when combined with these sweeteners. Additionally, allulose has similar onset anticipation of sweetness as compared to sucrose and has similar functionality when reformulating food products for calorie reduction.
When reformulating products with allulose, several key considerations should be taken into account to achieve best results. Below is further information on five characteristics for consideration during reformulation: browning, crumb structure, crystallization, humectancy and solubility.
Allulose browns more than sucrose, making it ideal in applications such as baked goods in which browning is a preferred visual quality attribute for consumers (i.e. peanut butter cookies). It has a similar browning effect as fructose, but with fewer calories, and also allows for browning more effectively than dextrose. As manufacturers replace sugar in their products with allulose, they may expect to obtain more browning following replacement.
In those bakery and other applications in which brown sugar is used, allulose can be a preferred replacement ingredient to reduce the calorie content and maintain a caramelized flavor note in the finished product. Additionally, since allulose has a tendency to brown, it is well suited for those products with “warm” flavor profiles.
When product browning needs to be moderated, other browning components such as dextrose or fructose can be replaced or corn syrup type can be changed (to a lower dextrose equivalence (DE) to achieve calorie reduction and an optimized finished product appearance and flavor.
With regard to the resulting crumb structure of baked products, allulose behaves similarly to other sugars. Therefore, allulose provides a good alternative for sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in many cake products. Some products benefit from allulose’s good moisture holding properties that can provide a moist, tender texture over the shelf life of the finished product.
Allulose has a lower tendency to crystallize in high solid systems when compared to other sugars. This characteristic is advantageous in applications such as candies in which the manufacturer does not want there to be graining (sugar recrystallization). Allulose can be used at high levels in high solids confections, fillings and toppings where it provides desired textural properties and good stability over shelf life.
Allulose has a high humectancy (affinity for water) and, as such, is more hygroscopic than sucrose. This means that shelf life of products such as soft baked goods and cereal bars will be increased in comparison. By being hygroscopic, allulose keeps products such as soft baked goods moist and products like cereal bars chewy in a fashion similar to that seen when fructose is added to formulations. However, due to its humectancy and hygroscopicity, manufacturers should consider the handling of the ingredient and finished product packaging.
Allulose is highly soluble, making it extremely functional in applications in which this is a favored characteristic. As with other sugars, the solubility of allulose increases with temperature. On a relative basis, allulose is more soluble than sucrose over a wide range of temperatures.
Allulose also quickly dissolves in water or the liquid it is being added to. This characteristic makes allulose a good candidate for powdered drink mixes. Crystalline allulose dissolves easily in liquid products, which is advantageous for processing of products, such as ready to drink beverages.
In terms of how companies might use allulose in their product reformulations, the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for allulose from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists approved food categories and usage levels. Some usage levels may not allow for complete replacement of other sugars with allulose. If higher levels of sugar replacement or reduction are required, high-potency sweeteners can be used with allulose to achieve reduction targets.
When thinking about reformulating with allulose, predictable results can be expected since it functions as a sugar. Additionally, while it acts as a sugar, but has fewer calories, allulose is an ideal replacement for sugars when trying to reduce the amount of calories in a product.
Read the next article here.